SHINER - Shiner was down to its last out four times in the decisive game of its Class 1A regional quarterfinal series against Thrall, but the out never came.
Shiner's Cuatro Rankin prepares to hit the ball during practice. Rankin will be behind the plate, when thee Comanches play Ben Bolt in the Class 1A regional semifinals. photo by Angeli Wright, Victoria Advocate
The Comanches rallied to win Game 3 in their final at-bat, just as they had done in Game 2 of their area playoff series against Bremond.
"We have great chemistry and we all work hard and what coach B preaches to us all the time is that it's not over until the last out," said senior Cuatro Rankin. "We never give up and you can see that after our last two rounds. That's definitely our strong point. We don't have any big superstars, but we all work hard and that's how we got this far."
Rankin has done more than his share to help Shiner (25-7) advance to its best-of-three game regional semifinal series against Ben Bolt, which opens Thursday at 7 p.m. at San Antonio Alamo Heights
Rankin began the season in left field, but moved behind the plate for Game 3 of the Thrall series when starting catcher Zach Reese fractured a bone in his left hand when it was clipped by a bat.
"I've caught all four years of high school and all through Little League, but I definitely didn't expect to be back here and isn't my primary position," Rankin said. "I'm doing whatever the team needs me to do. Whatever coach B tells me, I'll do it."
Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker had no qualms about moving Rankin to catcher, and isn't worried about him being behind the plate against Ben Bolt.
"He does a good job of handling the pitchers," Boedeker said. "He's a senior He knows the game so there's really no concern."
Boedeker played Rankin at catcher in a few games earlier in the season, and has him work at the position every day in practice.
"You always want to try and have backups just in case and we worked him in practice a lot early in the season," Boedeker said. "We wanted to get him some reps in there just so he could get prepared on situational stuff, getting signs relayed in and getting comfortable with the pitchers as well."
Class 1A Regional Semifinals
Shiner vs. Ben Bolt,
Best-of-three at San Antonio Alamo Heights.
Game 1, Thursday, 7 p.m.; Game 2, Saturday, 2 p.m.; Game 3, if necessary, following Game 2.
Ky Sandelovic, Joey Gamez and Wesley Patek pitched for Shiner against Thrall and could do so again against Ben Bolt.
"They're all a little different," Rankin said. "Kyle and Joey throw about the same velocity with their fastball. Joey's got more of a looping curveball than Ky, and Ky's got a real sharp curveball. It takes a little adjustment getting to block their third- strike curveball if they throw it in the dirt. But after a little work it becomes natural."
Rankin went 0 for 4 against Thrall after moving to catcher, but doesn't believe the position change played any role in his struggles at the plate.
"Cuatro's one of those guys who puts a lot of time into his offense and he loves the game so I don't think catching will hurt his offense any," Boedeker said. "Nothing fazes him. He's one of those guys who will play wherever you need him to play and do the best he can with it."
Rankin's only concern is helping Shiner win, and he's willing to do whatever it takes.
"People would think it's a really big adjustment, but when you work it three or four days in practice it's not all that big of a deal," Rankin said. "You've got to be a senior leader, so I'm ready to do whatever they need."